What is a manifesto?

Political parties are delivering their manifestos to let voters know what they will do in government.

Watch: Rishi Sunak promises tax cuts in Tory manifesto

Rishi Sunak has launched the Conservative Party's general election manifesto, promising a 2p cut in national insurance and scrapping the tax altogether for the self-employed.

The prime minister announced details of the manifesto from the Silverstone Circuit on Tuesday, pledging to lower taxes and immigration.

The Tory manifesto follows that of the Liberal Democrats, which was unveiled on Monday, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is set to publish his party's policies later in the week.

The publication of party manifestos are key moments in a general election campaign and will go some way to swaying or repelling voters ahead of the poll on 4 July.

Manifestos essentially set out the policies that each political party say they will deliver if they win the general election.

It is published in a document and sets out the party’s offer to voters before they head to the polls.

While party leaders will usually make several policy suggestions or commitments throughout the time of a parliament, it is in the manifesto where they make clear exactly what they will do.

Watch: Keir Starmer says 'the money's not there' for Tory manifesto

Deciding on what goes in the manifesto is usually not a simple case of the leader deciding what they want to do. For Labour and the Lib Dems, committees and party members are involved in the process and give the final approval before the manifesto is published. However, the Tories have a less formal process and there is no need to put the manifesto to members before it is finalised.

Manifestos are given their own special launch and they are used by parties to outline headline-grabbing commitments in an attempt to tempt voters who are yet to decide who to vote for.

Manifestos are not a legally binding document a winning party must implement and for decades governments have been criticised for saying they will do one thing in their election campaign and never following through with it once they win power.

The Liberal Democrats announced their manifesto on Monday, followed by the Tories on Tuesday, and Labour will unveil their manifesto on Thursday.

There is no specific time when parties have to launch them – this is decided by each party, perhaps when they feel is the optimum moment to gain the most headlines.

However, since 1997, Labour and the Conservatives have launched their manifestos between 18 and 29 days before the polling date, according to the Institute for Government.

Due to the desire to gain maximum exposure, the Tories and Labour co-ordinate to avoid launching them on the same day. However, a miscommunication meant both parties launched their manifestos on the same day during the 1992 general election campaign.

The Tories' manifesto commits to a third 2p reduction as part of a drive to eliminate national insurance altogether to end the double taxation on workers, who are already liable for income tax.

The Tories also promised to abolish the main rate of self-employed national insurance entirely by the end of the next parliament.

The manifesto commits to cutting employee national insurance to 6% by April 2027 at an estimated cost of £10.3 billion in 2029-30.

On top of the already implemented cuts, the manifesto said it would amount to a total tax reduction of £1,350 for the average worker on £35,000.

The party also confirmed its pledge not to increase income tax or VAT rates.

TOWCESTER, ENGLAND  - JUNE 11: Prime minister Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party's general election manifesto launch at Silverstone Circuit on June 11, 2024 in Towcester, United Kingdom. Financial security for working people topped the Conservatives' list of pledges, which also includes tax cuts, measures to curb migration and boost the economy.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Prime minister Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party's general election manifesto launch at Silverstone Circuit. (Getty Images)

The manifesto commits to requiring migrants to undergo a health check in advance of coming to the UK – with the prospect of paying a higher rate of the immigration health surcharge or forcing them to purchase insurance if they are “likely to be a burden on the NHS”.

The manifesto states the Conservatives want to “work with other countries to rewrite asylum treaties to make them fit for the challenges we face”.

It also outlines plans to introduce a legal cap on migration to ensure “numbers will fall every year”.

The manifesto promises a “regular rhythm of flights every month” to Rwanda.

For young people, the manifesto outlines the plans for mandatory national service, funding 100,000 “high-quality” apprenticeships” and protecting children by “requiring schools to ban the use of mobile phones during the school day”.

The manifesto details a series of transport pledges, including £8.3bn to “fill potholes and resurface roads” and boosting Midlands rail connectivity with £1.75bn to fund the “Midlands Rail hub in full”.

Lib Dems leader Sir Ed Davey launched his party's manifesto on Monday, promising Britons "a fair deal".

He said every pledge in the 116-page manifesto was fully costed.

It included giving everyone a right to see a GP within seven days, or 24 hours if it’s urgent, and providing an extra 8,000 doctors.

The party also promised to tackle the cost of living crisis, by introducing an emergency home energy upgrade programme, tackling rising food prices through a national food strategy and getting mortgage rates under control through careful economic management.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey speaks at the party's manifesto launch on June 10, 2024 in London, England. The Liberal Democrats will campaign for closer ties with the EU and put social care and health at the centre of its manifesto for the General Election on July 4th. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey speaks at the party's manifesto launch. (Getty Images)

The party also vowed to repair the UK's "broken relationship with Europe" by committing to join the single market.

In education, the Lib Dems have pledged to have a mental health professional in every primary and secondary school; increase funding per pupil above the rate of inflation; triple the early years pupil premium to £1,000 a year and give every adult a £5,000 education and training grant.

Read more: What you need to know about the Lib Dem election manifesto

Davey also announced proposals to build 10 new garden cities as part of a plan to create 380,000 new homes each year.

The Lib Dems also want to extend the Youth Mobility Scheme, increasing the age limit from 30 to 35 for those who can live and work in Europe and abolishing fees for those visas.

Ahead of his party's manifesto launch on Thursday, Starmer criticised the Tories' policies document, calling it a “Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto” that will “load everything into the wheelbarrow” without explaining how to pay for it.

Labour has ruled out matching the Conservatives' pledge to cut national insurance by 2% because the "money simply isn't there".

However, it will reportedly pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT for five years if it gets into government.

On Tuesday, Labour promised to create an extra 100,000 dental appointments for children, covering urgent and emergency care and on evenings and weekends, if they win the general election.

MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer speaks with members of the media as he visits Whale Hill Primary School on June 11, 2024 in Eston, United Kingdom. During a school visit, Labour leader Keir Starmer, and Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary, announced plans to clear the dentistry backlog under the Conservative government and introduce urgent and emergency dental appointments as part of Labour's effort to improve children's health. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to a primary school during the general election campaign. (Getty Images)

It wants to reform dentists' contracts to increase numbers where they are needed most.

The party has also pledged to create 100,000 additional childcare places and more than 3,000 new nurseries as part of its childcare plan.

Last month, Starmer announced five specific pledges, which include: cutting class sizes to 30 or under for five, six, and seven-year-olds; fast-tracking punishment for young offenders; cutting NHS waiting lists by treating an extra 100,000 patients; getting 250,000 under-25s off benefits using money from a windfall tax on privatised utilities; and a promise not to increase income tax and to cut VAT on heating.

In 2019, the then-prime minister Boris Johnson made Brexit the heart of the Tory manifesto. He vowed to “get Brexit done”, while promising a programme of investment for the NHS and the police while freezing key tax rates.

The manifesto included “triple tax lock” with no increases in income tax, national insurance and VAT for five years, an additional 20,000 police officers and 50,000 extra nurses with the return of nurse bursaries, which were scrapped by the Tories in 2016.

191125 -- TELFORD, Nov. 25, 2019 Xinhua -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech at the launch of the Conservative Party election manifesto in Telford, Britain on Nov. 24, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Conservative Party s election manifesto Sunday, promising to put his Get Brexit Done deal before parliament ahead of Christmas recess. Xinhua-UK OUT BRITAIN-CONSERVATIVE PARTY-ELECTION MANIFESTO-LAUNCH PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxCHN
Boris Johnson delivers a speech at the launch of the Conservative Party election manifesto in Telford in November 2019. (Alamy)

Other measures include extra funding for social care, an Australian-style points-based system to control immigration after Britain left the EU, a pledge to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050 and funding boosts for childcare and pothole repairs, while it also set out plans to part-scrap NHS hospital car parking charges.

Jeremy Corbyn, who led Labour into the 2019 general election, launched a very different manifesto, in a 105-page document that he described as “the most radical and ambitious plan to transform our country in decades”, with policies the “political establishment” had blocked for a generation.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, holds a copy of the manifesto on stage at the launch of Labour's General Election manifesto, at Birmingham City University, England, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Jeremy Corbyn holds a copy of the Labour manifesto in Birmingham during the launch in November 2019. (PA)

The manifesto included a “green industrial revolution” to tackle climate change, bringing back rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership and introducing a “real living wage” of at least £10-an-hour while ending zero-hours contracts and strengthening trade union rights.

Other policies in the manifesto were to scrap university tuition fees, increase funding for the NHS and offering a second referendum on Brexit.